My Apartment: The Renovation

I started this post with the intention of giving you a home tour. I was going to take you through the kitchen, and then in the next post chat about my living room. But as I got writing, I realized that there were so many other things that happened before I got into the design phase of creating my apartment. So first, the prelude to my home design, is the purchase and renovation of my apartment, which was perhaps the biggest undertaking of my life! So, here’s the background on my apartment’s design – the struggles of buying a house in Amsterdam, the logistics of moving in Holland, scraping out an entire run down apartment, and starting anew. And spoiler alert :) it ends like this:On March 1st, 2017, I got the keys to my new apartment. Well, my old-new apartment I should say, as by the time I got the keys, the space had already been well-lived in for more than 70 years. The apartment was a ‘new build’ (which in Amsterdam basically means anything built in the past century) with huge windows in every room, high ceilings, a small front balcony, and lots of potential . . . which is a nice way of saying . . . . it was bad! Continue reading

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Merry Christmas!

AliBenChristmasCardHope you all have a loved and happy day!!

 

Wedding Save The Date Stamp

If you’re a crafty gal like me, wedding planning is a playground. There’s a chance to customize everything, from the centerpieces to your dress, and it’s those special touches that will really make your day personal and memorable for others.DIY Wedding Save The Date StampThis past weekend, B and I rolled up our sleeves for some fun wedding DIY. We had bought a personalized save the date stamp from Stamp Couture, featuring our names and an adorable calendar of our wedding month.

IMG_2835This handmade rubber stamp is perfect for telling your guests about your wedding day. It’s a unique save the date option that requires minimal investment and is really fun to work with!

IMG_2957Also included in the purchase was a little heart stamp to mark our special date. We wanted a save the date that felt homemade with love, allowing us to stuff each envelope with something unique and special.IMG_2885IMG_2851

To get started, we measured our stamp carefully. We bought some thick stock paper and printed out sized mini cards with a fresh floral design. We made sure to include the location of our wedding and our wedding website on the printed cards, as these details were not included on the rubber stamp. I used an industrial paper cutter at work to snip the cards down to just the right size. We bought some ink and envelopes and set a date to make our save the dates!

IMG_2921We spent the night stamping and fanning little save the dates out to dry. B did the calendar stamp and I followed with the little heart on our wedding date. IMG_2997We’re really happy with how they came out – they have just that sweet, homemade country vibe we were going for. IMG_2967IMG_2905If you’re looking for a unique save the date option, you can find Stamp Couture here. They make a ton of adorable personalized stamps, perfect for save the dates, wedding invites, envelope seals, etc.IMG_3042

A Gift for Mom – Easy Sea Glass Jewelry

I’ve been wanting to post this one for a while, but as these pretty jewels were gifts for my Mom, I had to wait until after she opened her presents to tell you all about them!

IMG_1138You may have remembered that while I was in France, I collected a big handful of sea glass while on the Île Sainte-Marguerite. It was simply everywhere. Either a new crop washes up every day on the island, or the French really don’t pay sea glass any mind. I grew up collecting beach treasures, so I was in sea glass heaven while on this beautiful island!

My Mom is an especially avid sea lover, and her birthday is in the hot heat of July – perfect timing to make her something special with this beautiful French sea glass.

I love to get crafty every now and then, but am by no means a jeweler! So I had to do a bit of digging online to find the right tools and techniques to make this sea glass into something wearable. You can find two great sea glass wire wrapping tutorials here and here – I used these as a base and then just kind of free-styled the rest. IMG_1126The first thing I did was buy supplies. Some light weight wire for wrapping, some good quality glue, and some clasps and hoops for making jewelry. IMG_1167I stacked the sea glass and then glued the two pieces together. I could have just wrapped single pieces, but doubling them up made them more dynamic and colorful.
IMG_1149^ ^ My favorite is this piece with the “H” on it!! Rarely do I find sea glass with any lettering still visible.

Once the sea glass has dried together, you can start wire wrapping. You could spend hours looking at tutorials, but the best advice I will give is just to let the wire do what it wants. If you try to manipulate it too much, it will end up looking forced.

You’ll need about a foot of wire per pendant. Put one end of your wire on the back side of the glass, and from there slowly start to wrap the wire around the glass in every which way and direction. Again, just let the wrapping process flow and don’t try too hard to make it look perfect.

Once you’re happy with the wrap, you can add a loop at the top to make a pendant. Again, I recommend checking out this demo film for the full length tutorial.
IMG_1169For this project I used two different needle nose pliers, glue, a 22 gauge wire, and some random jewelry clasps. IMG_1236In the end, I made a ton of pendants. Some I fashioned into necklaces, some became earrings, and others were gifted as-is, for my mom to purpose as she likes.IMG_1208IMG_1201IMG_1221I had a blast making this homemade sea glass jewelry, and it was super easy to boot!! I also have some smooth rocks that I am looking forward to wrapping, and may even make some charms for myself.IMG_1190Happy birthday Mom, I hope you love your homemade birthday gifts :)

Bar Carts

You know you’re a big kid when you lust after home decor. Fresh linnens, delicate chinaware, statement artwork – things I never would have pined over five years ago now have a prominent ranking on my lust-list. I blame Pintrest for fueling my nesting addiction. Most recently, I’m obsessing over bar carts.

Am I too young to have a bar cart? Possibly.

Do I drink enough alcohol to have a bar cart? Probably not.

But I love the idea of having a little hostess cart on wheels – something to roll around and offer your guests colorful straws and exotic liquors from. I’ve been collecting inspiration for my own bar cart, which I am intent on creating this summer. Here’s a snapshot of my inspiration:

Crisp White

There’s something about the color white that makes me smile.

White is clean. It’s empty, it’s open. It’s like a fresh start or a blank canvas. Some of the best things in life are white. A cold glass of milk served with warm cookies, freshly fallen snow, my grandpa’s lovely hair, and crisp clean linnens. Not to mention the softest sand, expensive china, frilly lace and pearls.

Perhaps it’s frosty February that’s making me lust after white – over the past few weeks I’ve been collecting crispy white photos on my Pinterest boards. Here’s a little sneak peek of my collection.

If you like what you see, you can follow all of my Pinterest photos here.

x

Month of Love

MonthOfLove2If January is for resolutions, February is for love.

This is my first Valentine’s Day as an engaged gal, and I’m sure it will be super-duper-lovey-dovey special.

But significant others aside, it’s nice to take a moment and appreciate love in general – whether it’s for a new neighbor, an old friend, a family member, or simply yourself.

I like to think that my day-to-day life is infused with lots of love. Small acts of giving, respect, and kindness can go a long way. They brighten your soul and make the world a more cheerful place!

I didn’t really have a resolution in January, so I am back-tracking a bit and dedicating the month of February to being a better me. Every day I am going to consciously love, whether it’s towards others or myself.

Care to join? There are no rules, and acts can be as big or as small as you like. You can buy a friend a coffee, send a postcard to a family member, or you can drink a warm cup of tea before bed and enjoy a tranquil moment of relaxation by yourself. You probably do lots of these things anyways. The point is to consciously think about these acts as you do them.

I’ve made a little calendar to help keep track of the love I share. Each day I will jot down a small note or reminder to document my act of love for that day.

At the end of the month, I’m looking forward to having a tangible realization of just how much love flourishes in my day to day life.

MonthofLoveCalendar

If you click on the calendar, it will take you to the image-only page. From here you can right click and save the image, and it will download at the perfect size for printing on an A3 piece of paper.

I’ll be keeping track every day, as will a few special ladies in my life. I’ll check back in and give an update sooon!

x

Feathers

I love The Notebook, but I may be a bit biased. You see, my name is Ali. So in all of those steamy, heart-throbbing scenes between Noah and Allie, I can simply close my eyes and imagine that Ryan Gosling is talking to me. Pure. Bliss.

My favorite part is when Noah unabashedly exclaims, “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird!” I can’t help but to respond out loud, passionately screeching at the screen, “Yes-yes-yes-yes-yes!” Yes, Ryan, yes. Let’s be birds and fly and have a cozy little nest where we live and play and raise a happy little bird family. True lovebirds!

While my Ryan Gosling crush may be fleeting, I’ve always had a thing for birds. I simply adore them all – swans, elegant owls, dark ravens, proud peacocks, even pigeons! And so when I saw Chris Maynard’s beautiful bird photography, I was immediately smitten as a sparrow.

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In Maynard’s work, the subject becomes the medium, and the medium then becomes the subject again, as he skillfully transforms bird feathers into tiny, intricate bird cutouts.

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I truly admire the time and finess it must take to create each detailed piece.
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And I especially love the round about subject-medium relationship. The feather is the bird, and the bird is the feather. A true chicken and egg piece of art!

chrismaynard5 Maynard’s work depicts growth, transformation and beauty in a truly pure and unique form.
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There is something so whimsical about a feather, so magical about the art of flight. 

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I’m quite inspired by Chris Maynard’s work, and might try something similar in my next design exploration. Until then, x

Bee Happy

Tonight I’ve been a busy bee!

I’m working on a graphic design series that stems from my recent obsession with bees. It’s refreshing to dig into a project for no particular reason – no one telling me what to do, no tight deadlines, and really, no one to please but myself! I really enjoy just playing around in Illustrator, exploring various designs and saving every 30 minutes or so to watch how the series evolves.

Here’s a little peek at some of the bees I have been working on tonight:

Feel free to steal my bees, I’m happy to share – they would make a cute desktop background or phone wallpaper!

Enjoy the free-bees! :)

Christmas Crafts

It’s never too early to get into the Christmas spirit! Ok, so maybe you’re not ready to rock out to Jingle Bells just yet, but it’s a good time to start to consider your holiday to-do list. Are there any projects that may take a bit longer to complete?

This weekend I’m getting a head start on my Christmas crafts. I’m smitten with the idea of personalized Christmas wrapping – little bows, homemade garland and glitter tape – small details that really make a package special! I’ve been gathering ideas from the web, and thought I would share a sneak peek of my weekend craft inspiration:

Blow Up DIY from Urban Outfitters.

DIY gift box with from The Sweetest Occasion.

Sheer paper and mini shapes on Present & Correct.

Array of awesomely cool gift wrapping ideas from MiniMegaDesign.

Felt broach pin from Etsy.

Glitter tape tutorial from Transitoinicial.

I really love all of the bright colors and patters, and am going to adapt some of my favorites from this collection for the Christmas season. Updates to come! :)